Councillors in Antigonish town and county, like many of their counterparts across the province, will receive a pay increase in 2019.
Both the Municipality of the County of Antigonish and Town of Antigonish recently approved raises for elected members.
Those decisions came in response to an upcoming modification to federal income tax regulations, taking effect Jan. 1, which will mean a decrease in a municipal councillor’s take-home pay.
With the removal of the tax exemption, they will no longer receive one-third of their stipends tax-free, which was meant to offset travel costs.
“We asked staff to go back and take a look. So council, along with many other municipalities across the province, (are) going to make it so that the net difference to a councillor doesn’t change,” Warden Owen McCarron told reporters after council’s Dec. 19 meeting.
“It will reflect a small increase to offset the tax piece.”
Like their counterparts in Antigonish County, town officials will implement the pay increases to coincide with the Jan. 1 change to the federal regulations.
“We will increase it enough so that it will make up for the loss in the taxes,” Mayor Laurie Boucher said after the town’s monthly public session Dec. 17.
“It will not be an increase to our take-home stipend, but it will be equal to what we’re taking home now.”
Since federal officials announced the planned change, the Federation of Nova Scotia Municipalities has encouraged its members to adjust their stipends to offset the loss.
As for other councils in the Strait region, the Town of Port Hawkesbury has deferred the council remuneration issue to its budget deliberations, while the Municipality of the County of Inverness has approved an adjustment that will take affect with the federal tax changes.
Like Port Hawkesbury, council with the District of St. Mary’s will discuss the issue during their upcoming budget talks.
The Municipality of the District of Guysborough has decided to make no changes to stipends for councillors.
“I think the federal government is going to win on this one – there is going to be more taxes going in to them,” McCarron said.